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05.12.2023: The Ominous Seapods w/ Al Schnier of moe. @ Funk'n'Waffles

w/s/g/: Hilltop


So, before this night I'd never been to a jam band show, well except that one time in college, when my friends invited me camping and we ended up at this gathering in a farmer's field and the stage was an old yellow school bus with the side cut out, and.. OK.... so let's just say I've never been to a professional jam band show, so I don't have much basis for comparison, but this night felt special. I had multiple people tell me how much they were looking forward to the show in the run up to it. Plus I knew Al Schnier from moe. (a band I'd been aware of since college) was sitting in. Upon arriving at the venue, it was obvious to the naked eye that things were to be different tonight. To start with, there was a crowd outside smoking. Inside, all the tables were gone. It was the first time I've been to Funk'n'Waffles and the tables were gone. Clearly they were expecting a packed house. I later heard that it was, in fact, a sold out night, so that meant things were going to get real intimate as it's not a huge venue and capacity is 200 people. Also, a veritable forest of microphones had sprouted at the back of the room. Definitely not something I'm used to seeing at shows, given that most shows are pretty militant that you're not supposed/allowed to record anything.

This many mics, do you think they're recording in 96kbps .mp3?

First up was Hilltop. The crowd was pretty sparse when they took the stage, with more people outside smoking than inside, but steadily filled in as they worked through their set.

Hilltop! L to R: Aris Nieuwkerk, Stephen Perry, Dave Klang, Reid Perry

Their songs feel more like soundscapes. They open with a verse and close with a verse, and sometimes have a verse in the middle. While undeniably good, I admit I wasn't always quite sure where songs began or ended. Based on the crowds reaction, thats a feature, not a bug. To whit:

The results of Hilltop's work.

Hilltop played 7 songs and their set lasted about an hour. They closed with a cover of the Doobie Brother's 'Black Water," leaving the crowd hollering and ready for The Ominous Seapods.

Max Verna of The Ominous Seapods

When The Seapods took the stage, the floor was jam packed, shoulder to shoulder. They greeted the crowd like old friends. They played two markedly different sets, and an encore. The first set was more in line with a Doobie Brothers album. The seven or eight songs were more the typical structure, with verses choruses and bridges., and songs lasting just a couple minutes. The brought a mandolin player to the stage (apologies to him for forgetting his name) and he sat in with them intermittently for the whole night. Fitting for a Mother's Day concert, his mother was in attendance, right up front the whole night.

The proud mama herself.

During the set break, the old friends thing was made literal when I overheard Max Verna greeting people he knew by name but hadn't seen in years. The set break was brief and the band quickly retunred to state for their second set. The second set was so dripping with jam you could have eaten it for breakfast. My jam band handicap was back, and again I struggled to tell when one song ended and the next began. I did definitely recognize two songs, when they covered moe.'s "Okayalright" which led right into another cover of The Violent Femmes "Blister in the Sun."

Al Schnier and Tom Pirozzi

Around midnight, the crowd started to thin. The Seapods took a short break prior to their 3? song encore. The ended came, not on some grand thundering finale, but more like a fine meal, not overwhelmed but not hungry for more either. By the close, around 12:30 AM, it clocked as the longest concert I'd attended at Funk'n'Waffles to date. I guess the songs aren't the only thing that are longer at jam band shows!

The Ominous Seapods
Hilltop



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